Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 22

How Panurge patrocinates and defendeth the Order of the Begging Friars.

Panurge, at his issuing forth of Raminagrobis’s chamber, said, as if he had been horribly affrighted, By the virtue of God, I believe that he is an heretic; the devil take me, if I do not! he doth so villainously rail at the Mendicant Friars and Jacobins, who are the two hemispheres of the Christian world; by whose gyronomonic circumbilvaginations, as by two celivagous filopendulums, all the autonomatic metagrobolism of the Romish Church, when tottering and emblustricated with the gibble-gabble gibberish of this odious error and heresy, is homocentrically poised. But what harm, in the devil’s name, have these poor devils the Capuchins and Minims done unto him? Are not these beggarly devils sufficiently wretched already? Who can imagine that these poor snakes, the very extracts of ichthyophagy, are not thoroughly enough besmoked and besmeared with misery, distress, and calamity? Dost thou think, Friar John, by thy faith, that he is in the state of salvation? He goeth, before God, as surely damned to thirty thousand basketsful of devils as a pruning-bill to the lopping of a vine-branch. To revile with opprobrious speeches the good and courageous props and pillars of the Church — is that to be called a poetical fury? I cannot rest satisfied with him; he sinneth grossly, and blasphemeth against the true religion. I am very much offended at his scandalizing words and contumelious obloquy. I do not care a straw, quoth Friar John, for what he hath said; for although everybody should twit and jerk them, it were but a just retaliation, seeing all persons are served by them with the like sauce: therefore do I pretend no interest therein. Let us see, nevertheless, what he hath written. Panurge very attentively read the paper which the old man had penned; then said to his two fellow-travellers, The poor drinker doteth. Howsoever, I excuse him, for that I believe he is now drawing near to the end and final closure of his life. Let us go make his epitaph. By the answer which he hath given us, I am not, I protest, one jot wiser than I was. Hearken here, Epistemon, my little bully, dost not thou hold him to be very resolute in his responsory verdicts? He is a witty, quick, and subtle sophister. I will lay an even wager that he is a miscreant apostate. By the belly of a stalled ox, how careful he is not to be mistaken in his words. He answered but by disjunctives, therefore can it not be true which he saith; for the verity of such-like propositions is inherent only in one of its two members. O the cozening prattler that he is! I wonder if Santiago of Bressure be one of these cogging shirks. Such was of old, quoth Epistemon, the custom of the grand vaticinator and prophet Tiresias, who used always, by way of a preface, to say openly and plainly at the beginning of his divinations and predictions that what he was to tell would either come to pass or not. And such is truly the style of all prudently presaging prognosticators. He was nevertheless, quoth Panurge, so unfortunately misadventurous in the lot of his own destiny, that Juno thrust out both his eyes.

Yes, answered Epistemon, and that merely out of a spite and spleen for having pronounced his award more veritable than she, upon the question which was merrily proposed by Jupiter. But, quoth Panurge, what archdevil is it that hath possessed this Master Raminagrobis, that so unreasonably, and without any occasion, he should have so snappishly and bitterly inveighed against these poor honest fathers, Jacobins, Minors, and Minims? It vexeth me grievously, I assure you; nor am I able to conceal my indignation. He hath transgressed most enormously; his soul goeth infallibly to thirty thousand panniersful of devils. I understand you not, quoth Epistemon, and it disliketh me very much that you should so absurdly and perversely interpret that of the Friar Mendicants which by the harmless poet was spoken of black beasts, dun, and other sorts of other coloured animals. He is not in my opinion guilty of such a sophistical and fantastic allegory as by that phrase of his to have meant the Begging Brothers. He in downright terms speaketh absolutely and properly of fleas, punies, hand worms, flies, gnats, and other such-like scurvy vermin, whereof some are black, some dun, some ash-coloured, some tawny, and some brown and dusky, all noisome, molesting, tyrannous, cumbersome, and unpleasant creatures, not only to sick and diseased folks, but to those also who are of a sound, vigorous, and healthful temperament and constitution. It is not unlikely that he may have the ascarids, and the lumbrics, and worms within the entrails of his body. Possibly doth he suffer, as it is frequent and usual amongst the Egyptians, together with all those who inhabit the Erythraean confines, and dwell along the shores and coasts of the Red Sea, some sour prickings and smart stingings in his arms and legs of those little speckled dragons which the Arabians call meden. You are to blame for offering to expound his words otherwise, and wrong the ingenuous poet, and outrageously abuse and miscall the said fraters, by an imputation of baseness undeservedly laid to their charge. We still should, in such like discourses of fatiloquent soothsayers, interpret all things to the best. Will you teach me, quoth Panurge, how to discern flies among milk, or show your father the way how to beget children? He is, by the virtue of God, an arrant heretic, a resolute, formal heretic; I say, a rooted, combustible heretic, one as fit to burn as the little wooden clock at Rochelle. His soul goeth to thirty thousand cartsful of devils. Would you know whither? Cocks-body, my friend, straight under Proserpina’s close-stool, to the very middle of the self-same infernal pan within which she, by an excrementitious evacuation, voideth the faecal stuff of her stinking clysters, and that just upon the left side of the great cauldron of three fathom height, hard by the claws and talons of Lucifer, in the very darkest of the passage which leadeth towards the black chamber of Demogorgon. O the villain!

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33